Slain student Agee honored as mentor

The mantra of this blog is that plaques and memorials are important because they memorialize and focus attention on important events, places and people. Here is a story that does just that:

“The life of student Steven R. Agee II was commemorated by a plaque and conference room, named in his honor, in a dedication ceremony Monday.”

Click to read story by Betsy Mathew Northern Star (Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.) 4/15/14

Avalon Lions Club Dedicates Bud Smith Memorial Plaque

“AVALON, CATALINA ISLAND – Avalon Lions Club Members, family and friends of Bud Smith, dedicated the Avalon Lions Club Memorial Plaque to Bud Saturday March 22, 2014, at the Airport in the sky. The beautiful plaque is located on the right side of the walk way coming off the tarmac into the Conservancy exhibit area. The bronze plaque features a picture of Bud standing beside a DC-3 at the Airport in the Sky…”

Click to read story by Burney Ramming, Avalon Lions Club President from 4/2/14

Plaque placed at BI Museum

When you look at their faces, you can see the pride and community spirit that accompanies the placement of this bronze plaque. I hope they realize that someone needs to commit to regularly maintaining it so it will stay looking like it does now. The information is available in my free eBook Preserving Bronze Plaques & Memorials.

“Buffalo Island Museum in Monette has purchased a bronze plaque stating: ‘First National Bank, 201 W. Drew Avenue, Built in 1918, was placed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior on January 24, 2008.’ ”

Click here to read story submitted by Donna Rolland 4/1/14

Tugboat Annie Plaque Re-unveiled

“On Oct 18, 1940 Tugboat Annie Sails Again actors Ronald Reagan and Marjorie Rambeau with Henry Foss of the Foss Launch and Tug Company presented the City of Tacoma at the city’s Roxy theater (now  Pantages Theater)  with a bronze plaque which includes the words, ‘Dedicated to Tugboat Annie – 1940 – Pioneer Spirit of Puget Sound.’ (pictured).

Click to read story from  Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center 3/28/14

Movie Review: The Monuments Men

I recently watched the movie The Monuments Men and would like to comment on it.

When I first heard about this movie I had no idea what it was about. I thought at first it was a typical Hollywood war story. Then I found out that this was the name for a real platoon comprised of museum directors, conservators, curators and art historians tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. The more I learned, the more I wanted to see it, which I did a few days ago.

After, I wanted to learn more. In scanning reviews of it, I read criticism from “experts” outlining this and that flaw or mistake. I suppose being critical makes you an expert, like the one who said “Unfortunately, it’s the most visually un-dynamic film George Clooney has ever directed,” blah, blah, blah. Maybe critics are necessary to elevate the art of movie-making, but the bottom line for me was that I liked it. Especially since it was a true story.

Here is one of the better reviews I found.

The Smithsonian Magazine’s articleThe True Story of The Monuments Men” By Jim Morrison, 2/7/14  provides more similarities between the true story and the movie than what some critics would admit.

Another fact I discovered is that the hunt is still on for missing looted art objects — mainly through The Monuments Men Foundation, founded in 2007, which “honors the legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as the ‘Monuments Men,’ and their unprecedented and heroic work protecting and
safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II. Raising public awareness is essential to the
Foundation’s mission.”

My perspective comes from many years’ work as a metalsmith specializing in metal repair, restoration, and preservation, including metal art. And although I’m not
in the category of the Monuments Men, my work gives me a feeling of kinship with them. Maybe, since my work is very direct and hands-on, I was drawn to the movie’s point
that art defines who we are. These men knew that after the war the towns and houses would surely be rebuilt, but if the culture and heritage expressed in art, that defines who we are, is lost, it would be a catastrophic loss for the world.

Lt. Frank Stokes, the one who was directed to form the Army unit: “We’re fighting for culture, and our way of life…  Destroy their achievements and their history,
it’s like they never existed. Just like ash, floating.”

The movie’s point that our cultural artifacts deserve to be located, cared for, preserved, and returned to the rightful owners, is also the main reason why Operation Rediscover exists. Bronze plaques and memorials are all around us dotting the countryside, defining who we are. They belong to the community. If these cultural icons are allowed to deteriorate (which they will if not properly cared for), if they are looted by the ravages of time and the weather, they might as well be ash floating in the wind.

The beauty is that we can all become “Monuments Men/Women” in our local communities, by taking part in historical treasure hunts, by stopping and noticing the history right under our noses, by returning these cultural icons to their rightful condition so their messages may have a continued voice.

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